A NEXT for AUTISM Grantee Spotlight
2022 NEXT for AUTISM Grantee: Sibling Leadership Network
Organization Type: Community
Grant Categories: Social
WHO THEY ARE
Founded in 2007, the Sibling Leadership Network has a mission to provide siblings of individuals with disabilities the information, support, and tools needed to advocate WITH their brothers and sisters and to promote the issues important to them and their entire families.
The Siblings Leadership Network is founded on the following Beliefs:
- Individuals with disabilities have the same rights as all members of society to dignity, respect, and the opportunity to grow and be productive members of their communities.
- Siblings of individuals with disabilities can have a powerful, positive impact on their siblings’ experiences, and are uniquely positioned to help ensure their present and future care in partnership with service organizations and government.
- In promoting the rights of our brothers and sisters, and of all individuals with disabilities, we are committed to advocating for policies and services that meet their needs.
- Siblings can be of great support to one another to enhance both our lives and the lives of our siblings.
“The grant funding made the development and distribution of the mindfulness sessions possible. We would not have been able to make the necessary adaptations or create opportunities for more people to access the content without the funding from NEXT.”
Katie Arnold, Former Executive Director
2022 GRANT IMPACT
- 43-150 adults with autism served
- 35% BIPOC
- Decreased stress in Autistic Adults and their siblings
With the support of a grant from NEXT for AUTISM, the Sibling Leadership Network partnered with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Cognition Behavior and Mindfulness Clinic,. Together these organizations created an inclusive virtual mindfulness program for autistic individuals and their siblings. Lessons included learning strategies to cope with stress, enhance relationships, and improve health and well-being.
- Development of three self-paced mindfulness modules to empower learners with autism and their siblings to cope with stress, enhance relationships, and improve health and well-being. These were housed on the teachable platform and could be accessed for free in collaboration with UIC's mindfulness clinic.
- Hosted three real-time engagement sessions over Zoom to connect participants and form a community.
WHY TEACH SIBLINGS TOGETHER?
Siblings play a pivotal role as the earliest form of friendships and social models and are often the longest-lasting relationships in people’s lives. As such, fostering a positive connection between siblings is crucial. The collaborative approach to learning and advocacy that occurs when individuals work alongside their brothers or sisters, is what drew the review team to ultimately nominate this proposal for funding.
At NEXT for AUTISM, we take pride in championing pilots that explore cutting-edge innovations. The dynamic nature of such initiatives often means not everything unfolds according to plan. Yet, we continually find inspiration in the adaptability demonstrated by our grant recipients. Sibling Leadership Network was no exception.
After discovering the self-paced modules had unintended barriers, the developed social media content that broke down the mindfulness sessions into "bite-size" learning that people couple easily access. These smaller doses of mindfulness content had reached more than 700 siblings.